Many cruising yachts think that they can sneak into an anchorage and nobody will know they are there. They are so wrong.
After our adventures in Koroinasolo, it was time to turn the northwest corner of Vanua Levu and get on the north coast. This meant that we would sail around "monkey face"" " mountain and through some narrow cuts in the reefs. It was a relatively calm day and the seas were flat, so certainly a good day for this trip. We put the headsail out and had a pleasant sail around the point and through the reefs until the wind was on the nose and then we motored. We worked hard at spotting the "monkey's face" but still aren't certain we saw it. Even with great directions from the teachers we had aboard! Maybe we just don't have good enough imaginations.
Our destination was the village of Naviqiri where we spent almost a week the previous year. We arrived early afternoon and went into the village that afternoon for sevusevu. Sera and Freddy were our hosts last year and Freddy is also the "toronga ni koro" so we sought them out. As soon as we landed the dinghy, several women from the village recognized us and we were welcomed back as family. Sera came up to us and one of her first questions was, "you lost something in Koroinasola?" The grapevine had worked fast – that anchor and chain event had happened the previous day – and already it was news in this village. Others also asked about it. So if you think they don't know what's happening in their own anchorages and even in surrounding villages...you are very mistaken. The grapevine is alive and working overtime in Fiji.
We did our sevusevu and found out that the chief had been one of the men in the meeting Michael attended in Koroinasolo. So he heard the story first hand and brought it back to his village. We enjoyed a visit with folks and went back to the boat with a few fresh lemons (for lemon cake!) We had Sera and Freddy to Astarte the previous year and served them tea and lemon cake and since then we know Sera has asked other visiting yachtie friends of ours for "lemon cake".
The next morning we returned with lemon cake in hand and had a nice tea. That was followed by a long trek up the hills for a promised great view. Our guides on the walk were three young children (it was Saturday so no school). We had Rosie (grade five), Charlie (grade seven) and little Charlie (kindergarten). The were very polite children – "Man Charlie" (that's what we ended up calling the older Charlie) carrying Michael's backpack the entire trip which he accomplished without shoes. The other two did the hike in flip flops! Little Charlie got the nickname "Speedy" (or Speeti in Fijian) because he probably climbed the hill three times running up and down and talking non-stop in Fijian. Rosie would politely walk near us and pull away tall grasses from our pathway or pull sticky nettles off Barbara's skirt!
The walk was steep on back roads and paths and over a burned out area. The views from the top were worth the effort. We could see the entire bay and even the other side to Rukuruka Bay. The island of Kia could even be seen in the far distance.
Upon our return to the village, we took our three young guides to Astarte. Only Man Charlie was at a yacht once previously. They were excited about the ride in the dinghy (they called it "speedboat" though it doesn't go very fast with five people). We served them some cookies and soft drinks and gave them the tour. They became "celebrities" on shore because they got to see the yacht. We were served a nice local lunch by Sera and Feddy of freshly cooked yams, chopped dalo leaves in coconut milk and fresh papaya. Yum.
We headed back to Astarte as we were quite worn out from the heat and long trek up the hill. Of course we had the huge following of children to help us launch the dinghy.
We decided to take off on Sunday for the twenty plus mile trip to the next stop. When we went to start the engine though – it wouldn't start. Michael knew exactly what it was because he had commented a few days prior about the battery switch seemed to not be a solid connection. Luckily we kept the old one when we replaced it with this one a few years back. It was located, still worked and then installed. The engine started and off we went.
We arrived in Navidamu Village around 3 pm but because it was Sunday, we opted to not go into the village to do sevusevu. We would do it the next morning.
At 7/7/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°39.37'S 178°35.73'E
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com